From Student Athlete to CEO

Katarina Samardzija, founder of Locker Lifestyle
Katarina Samardzija, founder of Locker Lifestyle

As a full-time student and athlete at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) and the founder of her own company, Locker Lifestyle, Katarina Samardzija is living her dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur. What began as an idea to keep her belongings safe while working out turned into a whole line of active accessories.

One day after tennis practice, Samardzija and her fellow teammates returned to the locker rooms to find their valuables stolen. Seeing a gap in the market, Samardzija wanted to create a type of locker people could wear on their wrists.

Because her mother owned a bridal store, Samardzija had the chance to meet with a seamstress to go over her designs. Within a few hours, the first prototype of the Wrist Locker was born and soon after, the creations of the Head Locker and the Little Locker followed.

Samardzija has remained purposeful and meticulous with every stitch, despite having to overcome barriers and a devastating disaster. In January of 2017, her mother’s bridal store of 26 years suffered a complete loss from a fire. Not only was this the place where she grew up and learned the ins and outs of owning a business from her mother and aunt, but it was also the headquarters for Locker Lifestyle.

Locker Lifestyle offers a variety of products to keep your possessions safe and within reach.
Locker Lifestyle offers a variety of products to keep your possessions safe and within reach.

After losing all her materials, patterns and prototypes from the fire, one of Samardzija’s professors recommended she enter the MWest Challenge, a student venture competition in West Michigan. Even though she felt anxious heading into the competition, Samardzija was determined to get outside her comfort zone and show her passion for her products.

Winning the MWest Challenge was a turning point for Samardzija. Not only did it show her that other people saw the value of her products, but it also gave her confidence to participate in six other entrepreneurial competitions. Succeeding in each one, these competitions have allowed Samardzija to pay for patents, build a team, and continue to attend school and play tennis.

Although her priorities keep her busy all day, Samardzija loves the process and wants to wake up every morning and do it again. “This business has taken me to meet so many new people and has opened so many more doors than I could have ever imagined,” said Samardzija.

Having to immerse herself in this business has taught Samardzija so much in such a short time. However, one thing she will always remember is the importance of persistence. “Persistence is key because you’re going to hit so many roadblocks and so many walls you’ll want to literally fall over from exhaustion, but it’s that persistence that’s going to not only put you ahead of the competition, but also make you stronger,” said Samardzija.

Without the support from her family and her passionate persistence, Locker Lifestyle would not be as successful as it is today, selling “over a thousand units of products to males and females, ages 5 to 95 across the country,” Samardzija said.

In pursuit of creating high-quality comfortable and convenient products, Samardzija said she is determined to provide “the excuse-free and worry-free active lifestyle” that everyone deserves. Samardzija hopes her products will provide protection and safety for all ages and hopes her story will inspire other female entrepreneurs to chase their dreams.

As for what is next, Samardzija wants to continue to grow her company and make the best possible products for her customers. You can find more information Katarina Samardzija and her active accessories at Locker Lifestyle.

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